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A few years back, while attending the &Now conference on innovative writing at Lake Forest College in Chicago, I was introduced to the concept of spam poetry. For some, this exercise simply takes the form of a kind of poetic version of Duchamp’s “found object”: take the spam email and, without reshaping it in any way, present it as a poem. My procedure is somewhat more invasive and is perhaps informed by the tinkering spirit of Bill Burroughs and his cut-up and fold-in methods. For starters, I only use spam messages that include prose. From the message, I make a poem using only the words or, in some cases, phrases found in the original spam. As I use a word or phrase, I erase it from the original message until what I have left is the poem that was “hidden” in the spam. From time to time I’ll post an example of this exercise here for entertainment purposes only: No Wagering!

The poems: